Indian Think Tank Recommends Digitizing Medicine on Blockchain to Fight Fake Drugs
According to sources, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) expecting to put all medicines made and consumed in the country on the blockchain in efforts to crack down on counterfeits. However, India has been a vocal supporter of blockchain technology; the nation made headlines earlier this week after banning its state financial institutions from backing cryptocurrency-related projects.
A representative of NITI Aayog said the move to digitize medicine records on a blockchain would help the government and pharmaceutical companies restrict the increasing amount of fake medicines in the nation – an industry worth about Rs 15,000 crore, or 2.3 billion dollars. NITI Aayog wants to finish a proof of concept (PoC) solution by the end of this year, and commence implementation in 2019.
The government sources involved requested for their identities to be kept hidden as they are not allowed to speak with the media.
The Official said:
“We are all taking those medicines, and I am sure people are dying. One way to reduce that is put the entire supply chain on the blockchain. We have identified a company that will do the technology for us. Now we have to identify a partner and do the PoC on the blockchain.”
Despite the fact it’s clear that fake medicines are a major issue in India. Industry trade association ASSOCHAM figures that one in five drugs are counterfeit – this considering both illegal copycats and phoney medication with no clinical potency. As indicated by World Health Organisation (WHO) the number is smaller, with 10.5% (or around on in ten) of medicine in low and middle-income nations, including India, is substandard.
The sources clarify:
“Every time the drug changes hands, the unique number (generated at the manufacturing stage) is tracked. When the consumer gets the drug, there is a QR code or a barcode on it… you can open up an app, and you can check the complete details of where it was manufactured and all the places where it exchanged hands to travel to the shop.”
Moreover, “Once you have sold it, the code gets certainly audited on the blockchain that this ID has been sold, and no longer exists.”
Mr. Dilip Shah, Secretary-General of industry lobby Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, back the move to the blockchain technology.
Mr. Shah said,“Fake drugs are a concern, and if blockchain technology can help the industry get rid of the obstacle we are up for it.”
Despite this support, some are anxious, concerned that the project will cost too much, as even simple two-dimensional barcoding comes with a heavy price tag. Dili Shah believes the government will foot the bill.
“If the government is willing to admit it that it is an additional cost and remunerate it, the industry will have no objection.”
According to Dilip Shah, another critical issue is that taking the initial steps to putting India’s medical inventory on blockchain technology will decrease drug production figures, at least at the inception.
“Additional barcoding will result in a production loss of 25% in the short term at least.”